Peter Hoskin

Was last night’s Question Time a preview of how the coalition will deal with the media?

Was last night's Question Time a preview of how the coalition will deal with the media?
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All kinds of hoohah about last night's Question Time, for which Downing St refused to put up a panellist because of Alastair Campbell's involvement.  If he was replaced with a shadow minister, they said, they would happily get involved.  But, as the excutive editor of Question Time explains here, the Beeb wasn't prepared to go along with that.  So Campbell got to lord it up in front of the cameras.

For the reasons outlined by Guido and Iain Dale, it was probably a slight mis-step by the coalition – but not one, in itself, that will have any important rammifications for them or the public.  For while it's not the government's prerogative to decide on the entire Question Time panel, it is their prerogative to choose whether or not they join it.  Last night, they simply chose not to.

This does inspire a wider question, though, about how the government will deal with the media in future.  There's a sense in coalition circles that many media appearances will just reduce into attempts to conjure a split story between the Tories and the Lib Dems – especially when an agent provocateur like Campbell is involved.  So don't be surprised to see Downing St being fussy about Question Time, and other shows, in future.